As I sit here about to write this blog, I already know that this is post in vain. You see, I’m about to outline my proposed itinerary. There are some key events that take place while I’ll be on the hike and I’m curious about where I’ll be during them. The two primary dates I’m worried about are T.I.T.S. and Thanksgiving.
For those of you who don’t know, T.I.T.S. is an annual pilgrimage into the Superstition mountains to celebrate Thanksgiving. It happens about 2 weeks before the actual holiday. This is our 12th annual event; it’s a pot-luck event where everyone hauls a full thanksgiving feast into the woods. In years past we’ve roasted full turkeys, pheasants and hams over the fire. One year we even pit-roasted a turkey. I’m hoping to be able to roll through during my hike and use the event as a re-supply opportunity.
The real Thanksgiving is another date that I’ll be watching – I want to spend it with Tina, ideally in a private, luxury setting. Depending on my pace there are a few options out there but timing the reservations is going to require some effort and flexibility. I’m really not worried about IF it’ll work out; I’m curious HOW it’s going to play out. Stay tuned for that one.
Anyway, without further ado, here is my tentative itinerary:
On Saturday, September 24th we’ll depart Phoenix and head to the Utah border. Along the way we’ll be caching water in a few of the known water-less stretches. We’ll make camp somewhere convenient and complete our travel to the border trailhead the next day. On Monday, September 26th I’ll take my first steps south as I attempt to thru-hike the 800 mile Arizona Trail.
I am expecting that this northern Kaibab plateau segment will take me about 6 days; along the trail I will be stopping at Jacob Lake for a meal, as well as connecting with Tina at our B&T camp close to the entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. Once I arrive at the north rim I’ll have to apply for a permit. I want to spend my first zero day at the bottom of the Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Campground and hopefully a dinner at Phantom Ranch. On day 9 I’ll hike out via the South Kaibab trail and on to Tusayan for my first stay in a hotel and my first mail drop resupply, 16.3 miles later.
Leaving Tusayan I’ll make my way over the most notorious water-stressful segment (as if the rest of the trail isn’t). This is the segment that Tina and I will have stashed water on our way up. I’ll pass by the fire-watch tower at Grandview, head south into pristine forest past Russel Tank, the ruins of the Moqui Stage Stop, and over the ranges of the historic CO Bar ranch. Then I’ll start my long, but steep, climb to some remote range land and eventually into Flagstaff.
I plan on taking the re-supply route into town; I also plan on taking another zero day. Depending on how I feel, I might even take TWO zero days! I love Flagstaff and this is the biggest town the trail actually goes through. I’ll re-supply, drink beer, clean myself and gear, drink beer, eat great food and enjoy the local craft breweries. Get my point. Hopefully I can convince Tina (and friends . . .hint, hint) to come up and visit. I promise I’ll shower before you see me.
After Flagstaff it’s a nice mellow, but long push to the edge of the Mogollon Rim. I’m expecting to be able to average about 15 miles a day for the next 8 days as I push past Mormon Lake and on to Pine. I am really looking forward to Pine as well. It’s the home of THAT Brewery and Sidewinders. I’ll be doing a “store-based” resupply here and staying in the campground. I’ll be pushing on the next day with my target being the LF Ranch. This is a working cattle ranch in the Mazatzal Mountains. They have a bunk-house and serve a great dinner. I’ll also be counting on them for a mail-drop as well. Again, depending on how I feel and my pace, I might be taking a layover day here.
The next 113 miles will take me past the rest of the rugged (as $#%@!) Mazatzals, under the shadow of Four Peaks, to the marina at Roosevelt Lake (for another mail drop) and on to Reavis Ranch – the site of this year’s T.I.T.S. I am planning on taking three zero days at the ranch. This is also where I’m factoring in some flex-time. If I am behind schedule then this gap will increase my odds of being on time for that Saturday’s festivities. That Sunday I’ll hike out with everyone and resupply at the trailhead; I’m sure someone will volunteer to drive a box of stuff to me.
The trail immediately drops down into the desert and ribbons to the Picket Post trailhead at Superior. I won’t be staying or stopping in Superior; instead I’ll have a long, 7 day push to get to Oracle. I’ve done some of this route and it’s actually a really nice segment. There are some water caches along the way so hopefully they’ll be stocked when I go through. Or, maybe I can head out a couple days prior to my departure to set a few bottles in a few key locations . . . we’ll see.
I am planning on staying overnight in Oracle. I’m not sure where, but it’s a neat town and I am looking forward to checking it out. I won’t be taking a layover day though. I’ll head out the next day and get as far as I can. Along the way I’ll pass very close to Tucson. I’m hoping to hitch a ride or call an Uber to get me into town for my second to last layover/resupply day. Back on the trail I’ll hike according to the water schedule, eventually (possibly) staying at Colossal Cave or at the ranch with Tina. This is where I expect to be during Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what will actually transpire but I’m sure I’ll update you as events unfold. No doubt you’ll be pinned to the blog waiting to read all about it.
The last week will take me past Patagonia and on to the border. If I haven’t worn out my welcome from Tina she’ll come get me and we’ll make the long drive back to the real world, on or about December 1st.
Well, that’s my best laid plan . . . we’ll see how it goes.